MOORE, OK — Shelters in schools has been a hot topic in Oklahoma after recent storms, so a local public opinion pollster asked some questions to see how Oklahomans felt. SoonerPoll.com called over 400 likely Oklahoma voters between May 22nd and June 12th.
They found that three in four Oklahomans would fully support the idea of state mandated storm shelters in all public primary schools.
When Bill Shapard and his pollsters talked to Oklahomans, they expressed to them that tornado shelters should be as common as fire escapes. They also said they are willing to step up and pay for them.
“We are a very red state. We are very Republican. We are very conservative,” said Shapard. “We don’t necessarily like raising taxes but we found that at least 70% picked at least one type of funding option.”
Likely voters had no problem raising property, sales or income taxes. The state Emergency Management office estimates it would cost anywhere between $25,000 and over $1 million per school. State officials have recently ruled out a mandate saying it would cost Oklahoma more than $2 billion.
“I think that what they are doing is entering new territory,” said Shappard. “Where they need to take into consideration the voice of the public.”
Putnam City school teacher and parent Thomas Keller agrees with the poll’s majority. Like most parents he worries about his daughter when he hears sirens and she is still in school, but thinks it will be hard to get our politicians on board.
“I think at the state level they want to give each school district the right to decide things for themselves,” says Keller. “They don’t want to hover over them and say this is what you have to do.”
He doesn’t think that means we shouldn’t still try.
“It’s something that needs to be considered and hopefully funded,” said Keller.
In a statement from Putnam City schools they said, “This isn’t about what school officials think. It’s about what taxpayers think. It’s about what parents and grandparents think. It’s about what elected officials think. It’s about if and how Oklahomans choose to protect all of the state’s schoolchildren.”